Meeting George and Abe at the Nixon Library

Categories: Budget Diva, Day Tripping, Do As The Locals Do, Featured, Miscellaneous, Mommy Diva
Contributing Diva:

by Angela Rocco DeCarlo, copyright, 2011

“I’ve got something special for you, ” said President Abraham Lincoln to the young boy and girl.

With that he pulled from his trousers’ pocket a handful of the shiniest of new US Lincoln copper pennies.

This Lincoln enactor, Bill Peck, was pitch perfect in appearance (with a real beard) and demeanor at the annual Presidents’ Day free event at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Yorba Linda, CA. He spoke gently to the children as he explained the 2009 “Rail Splitter” pennies* he presented to them were keepsakes. Sam, 7, and Seritella, 5, our grandchildren, were awestruck as they accepted the shiny pennies. I admit, I was, too. He suggested the children learn not only the Gettysburg address, but Lincoln’s second inaugural address filled with hope and prayer. It was a small moment of pure theater just for two little kids – beautiful.

The Nixon Museum has been a favorite destination for us to take our four young grandchildren over the past ten years. They’ve scampered up and through the presidential helicopter, which is a part of the permanent collection of Nixon objects. The Apollo astronauts and their accouterments were an exciting up-close encounter when on special exhibit. Today, Sam and Serritella walked in the set-in-cement-bootprints of Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step foot on the moon. The beautiful gardens and lawn enticed the children to games of tag. No “keep off the grass” signs here. This is a museum visitors can really enjoy in all aspects.

The children also were presented to President George Washington who graciously sat for photos with them. The Washington enactor, the Rev. Gary B. Beard**, appears throughout the US in his colonial uniform engaging with visitors to tell the story of early America using his vast array of authentic artifacts, including Bibles, cannonballs and antique currency. The patience and enthusiasm displayed is remarkable, providing a satisfying learning experience for children and adults.

President Thomas Jefferson, portrayed by Peter Small, held a copy of “his” Declaration of Independence as he circulated through the throngs of Nixon guests. It was fun to chat about our personal heroes Lewis and Clark and their great achievements in exploring the vast Louisiana Purchase territory, 1804-1806.  Jefferson reminded us Lewis had been his personal secretary prior to appointing him captain of the expedition. He also made haste to laude their brave and resourceful guide Sacagawea. The brave young girl, who not only lead the explorers, also saved their precious journals from water destruction.

Later in the day the presidents would gather in the Nixon Library’s White House East Room replica. The program would include a question and answer session allowing guests to learn more about these great US presidents.
The Museum hosts many free programs thorough the year to educate and entertain. There are free Sunday concerts, a fabulous miniature holiday train exhibit, displays of presidential gifts to the Nixon family received from heads of state and a fashion gallery featuring bridal gowns from the Nixon daughters.

The Nixon Library and Museum is the perfect size…it has not yet been overindulged to gigantic proportions which often happens to successful museums. It is intimate, charming and educational. Our grandchildren love it.

Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
Admission: adults; $9.95; seniors $6.95;

*Four new Lincoln pennies were minted in 2009 in celebration
of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. Each of the four penny designs
depict different aspects of his life and career. Our pennies were the “Rail
Splitter” design.
** George Washington enactor, the Reverend Gary Beard,
visits schools and other venues.

copyright 2011 Angela Rocco DeCarlo

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